Chinpei Ramen Gets Better With Age
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When Yoshi Hashigami opened Chinpei Ramen nearly five years ago, the menu was simple and offered a mere 10 items.
After fielding multiple requests from his growing customer base over the years, the owner and chef of the eatery, located conveniently on South King Street, has expanded the menu, which now features more than 80 Japanese-inspired dishes. Chinpei Ramen offers a host of items made from scratch daily, and features all-natural soups and broths in its ramen selections. The restaurant also has multiple vegetarian options, and its dishes are free of MSG.
Hashigami was influenced by his father, who operated a restaurant in Japan for 55 years, and after it closed, Hashigami took over the operation, moving it to Hawaii and renaming the eatery to forge his own identity. He spent 15 years working at the restaurant in Japan, learning a wide range of cooking and preparation techniques that are behind the quality offerings on Chinpei Ramen’s ever-expanding and affordable menu.
One of the dishes that Hashigami chose for the menu because of its popularity in Japan is Nira and Liver ($10.25 with rice, $12.75 with Teishoku, $8.25 for side order). The chives and liver are stir-fried with bean sprouts to incorporate all the flavors of the colorful dish that also can be ordered as an appetizer.
For first-time customers, Hashigami recommends Spicy Char Siu Ramen ($10.60 small, $11.40 medium, $12.60 large), which features large pieces of sweet, moist pork in a hearty, flavorful broth. Vegetable-Yasai Ramen ($9.80 small, $10.60 medium, $11.80 large) is chock full of fresh seasonal vegetables, including shiitake mushrooms, carrots, corn, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, bean sprouts and green onion.
“The miso is strong and spicy,” he says, “and a lot of people order the gyoza, too.”
Gyoza ($1 per piece) is available in multiple quantities, and the freshly made pot stickers are delivered piping hot to the table. Vegetable Gyoza ($1.10 per piece) also is available in multiple quantities, and provides a healthier alternative to its meat-filled counterpart. Another popular pupu item is Shu Mai ($1.20 per piece), and like Gyoza, the pork hash is available in an array of quantities to satiate any appetite. Hashigami recommends his homemade sesame oil and chili pepper dipping sauce, which adds a flavorful kick to the meal.
Chinpei Ramen also offers a host of side dishes, including Fried Rice with Shrimp ($7) and Spicy Shoyu Pickled Cucumber ($2.20). The aforementioned items pair well with the eatery’s large selection of domestic and imported beer, sake and shochu. Happy hour specials are available from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 4 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The restaurant is open daily, and serves both lunch and dinner every day except Monday, when it opens for dinner at 5 p.m. Upon visiting, diners are encouraged to offer up ideas for new menu items, and one should not be surprised if Hashigami ends up adding the dishes to his collection so that others may enjoy them, too.
2080 S. King St., Honolulu
Monday, 5-10 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch) and 5-10 p.m. (dinner)
Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.